Epinephrine is popularly known as adrenaline. It is a water-soluble natural hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands in the brain (Rushton, 2009). Acute stress triggers the release of epinephrine into the bloodstream. In return, the heart rate, blood pressure, sugar metabolism, and heart rates spike allowing a person to react quickly (George, 2020). For instance, a person who usually doesn’t run can run very fast when they see something that arouses fear in them due to the epinephrine released in their body. The hormone can also be artificially synthesized and induced into the body for various reasons.
Artificially synthesized Epinephrine is used as a medication to artificially induce an increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, sugar metabolism, and heart rates. The hormone is primarily induced into the body using an injector or it could be inhaled in relieving shortness of breath (Alqahtani et al., 2020). The major brand name for artificially synthesized epinephrine is the EpiPen. The injection method is preferred because unlike the inhaling method, one could seek help in injecting the drug even when one passes out.
According to Alqahtani et al., in their research paper (2020), the primary reason for using artificially synthesized Epinephrine is because of asthma attacks (In this case it is inhaled via an inhaler), or in case of an allergic reaction (injector is used). Some of the severe allergic reactions that Epinephrine treats include but are not limited to stinging by insects, food allergies, and drug allergies. Given that most people with allergies are constantly engaging in an environment where their allergic reaction triggers exist. They always have an EpiPen to avoid a catastrophic allergic reaction (Alqahtani et al., 2020). For example, someone with a bee sting allergy may opt to always carry an EpiPen instead of always staying indoors to avoid the insect. Also, those with food allergies have the EpiPen just in case there are traces of the allergic reaction inducers.
Epinephrine is beneficial as a supplement because it alleviates allergic reactions and has been approved by scientific evidence to be effective. The effect of the substance is, however, temporally and meant to buy the victim time to get to the hospital (Alqahtani et al., 2020). Epinephrine is considered a derivative of tyrosine because it contains all but +H3N, a Hydrogen bond, and one Hydroxyl bond (Rushton, 2009). The modification of Tyrosine in Epinephrine allows the compound to be water-soluble and soluble in the blood plasma which makes it possible to use in the injector.
The conversion of Epinephrine into Tyrosine happens in the liver with the help of Phenylalanine hydroxylase which is produced by the organ (Huang et al., 2020). Tyrosine is derived from proteins in the diets after the metabolism of phenylalanine, it then enters the human brain through a low-affinity amino acid transportation system (George, 2020). In the body, it is stored in the form of Norepinephrine (NE) which serves as a neurotransmitter. The synthesis occurs in the nerve axons and is stored in vesicles.
Below is the metabolic chain of Epinephrine to produce Tyrosine;
Tyr → catecholamines (DOPA →dopamine → noradrenaline (norepinephrine) → adrenaline (epinephrine).
The metabolism of Tyrosine into epinephrine starts with the amino acid tyrosine which is first transported to the sympathetic nerve axon. Then follows the conversion of the amino acid to DOPA which is facilitated by tyrosine hydroxylase. DOPA is then broken down into dopamine through the help of DOPA decarbonization. Vesicles then aid in the transport of dopamine and it is then broken down into norepinephrine by the aid of dopamine β-hydroxylase. It is, however, important to note that the conversion of dopamine into norepinephrine can be inhibited by reserpine. As the vesicles transport norepinephrine in the axon, the membranes of the vesical depolarize their membranes allowing calcium in the calcium causes the membrane to shift allowing the release of norepinephrine after which it is bound by a postjunctional receptor that helps in the simulation to organ response.
The adrenal medulla synthesizes epinephrine from norepinephrine. The adrenal medulla is a gland associated with the kidneys (Rushton, 2009). A synapse is then established between the nervous system and the preganglionic fibers of the sympathetic nervous system. After being activated, the preganglionic fibers release acetylcholine which aids in the binding of postjunctional receptors within organs and tissue such as muscles. The releases of acetylcholine simulate the synthesis of norepinephrine within the adrenomedullary cells which adds a methyl group to the norepinephrine forming epinephrine which when released to the bloodstream is carried through the body inducing the fight or flight reaction (George, 2020). Epinephrine is reduced in the body by the transportation of norepinephrine to the nerve terminal. However, for someone high on cocaine, the transporters are blocked which is how the drug can induce blood pressure. Diffusion through capillaries, extracellular space metabolism, and postjunctional tissue uptake are other ways in which epinephrine is cleared from the system.
Epinephrine affects numerous systems in the human body. In the heart, the heart rate is increased. In the respiratory system, the airways are opened, in the liver, it stimulates the breakdown of glycogen to produce glucose (Knight, Nigam, 2017). These are the properties that make, the product synthesized from animal livers or clinically in a laboratory to be perfect for use during asthma attacks, anaphylaxis reactions, and for fight or flight responses. In the case of an individual having a heart attack, when injected into the heart, adrenalin induces action of the heart averting death.
Epinephrine is very effective in the prevention of anaphylaxis which could be fatal. It, therefore, is advisable that an asthmatic person always carry an inhaler or an individual with a proven history of an allergic reaction to food or insect bites to have an EpiPen or epinephrine equivalent with them at all times (Ewan et al., 2016). Epinephrine is very effective when induced into the body because it does not have to go through the metabolic process tyrosine has to go through to produce similar effects. It is important to note that some people have been known to be addicted to epinephrine (Ichim, 2018). Those who don’t use epinephrine in the synthesized form put themselves in stressful situations to produce similar results. These are the people who engage in extreme sports or risky behaviors for ‘fun.’
People with a history of anaphylaxis reactions are advised to take epinephrine when they eat or get stung by an allergic inducer. It is recommended that the epinephrine be injected as soon as possible. In situations where one suspects and is not sure if anaphylaxis will take place flowing exposure that epinephrine be injected or inhaled because the risk of not taking the same outweighs the associated disadvantages (Ewan et al., 2016). I, therefore, believe that people with allergies to always carry epinephrine injectors such as the EpiPen at all times and use them if they suspect that they have encountered an allergen.
Alqahtani, A.N., Alanazy, S.H., Aljameel, O.S.H., Aldhawi, F.S.M., Jamjoom, M.M., Al Sharhan, A.H., Alshehri, J.A.M., Halawani, A.T., Alhamdan, Z.A., Attar, M.H. and Salman, I.M., 2020. Evaluation of Diagnosis and Management of Anaphylactic shock in Emergency Room: A Literature Review. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research & Allied Sciences, 9(1).
Ewan, P., Brathwaite, N., Leech, S., Luyt, D., Powell, R., Till, S., Nasser, S. and Clark, A., 2016. BSACI guideline: prescribing an adrenaline auto‐injector. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 46(10), pp.1258-1280. https://doi.org/10.1111/cea.12788
George, M., 2020. Adrenaline releases level on skin-to skin touches.
Huang, L., Yao, W., Wang, T., Li, J., He, Q. and Huang, F., 2020. Acetylation of Phenylalanine Hydroxylase and Tryptophan 2, 3-Dioxygenase Alters Hepatic Aromatic Amino Acid Metabolism in Weaned Piglets. Metabolites, 10(4), p.146. https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo10040146
Ichim, V., 2018. BETWEEN DESPAIR AND BIO-CHEMISTRY. NOTES ON THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF ADDICTION. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai-Philosophia, 63(3), pp.133-144.
Knight, J. and Nigam, Y., 2017. Anatomy and physiology of ageing 7: the endocrine system. Nursing Times, 113(8), pp.48-51.
Rushton, L., 2009. The endocrine system. Infobase Publishing.